I wrote about MDM for BYOD a lot last year, because frankly, it’s still hard. Today, I’m going to look at a use case with unique challenges: student test-taking in schools.
A while back, Daniel Haiem, the creator of a graphing calculator app called ClassCalc, reached out to me to share their approach to BYOD.
You would think that by now, mobile apps would have completely replaced old-school $100+ graphing calculators. But when students are taking tests—especially standardized state exams—mobile phones naturally bring up all sorts of cheating and data leaking issues.
School districts could use MDM for BYOD, but with students, this is often a non-starter. There are privacy issues, plus many of the policies needed to make this happen require supervised mode on iOS or device owner privileges on Android. Some schools issue managed tablets that could potentially work for exams, but many don’t and instead rely on unmanaged BYOD.
The ClassCalc app addresses this with a clever workaround. For iOS, students put their personal iPhones into Guided Access mode, which temporarily locks it down. Teachers can’t actually directly control or enforce this; instead, the app verifies student compliance and reports back to the teacher. On Android, the ClassCalc app uses pin mode and do not disturb mode, along with the same verification model.
There are a challenges, though. On iOS, Guided Access takes a few steps to configure, and on Android, ClassCalc has to do use a few other APIs to verify that other apps don’t disturb the test taking environment.
So ClassCalc has found workarounds, but overall, this shows another place where we could use a wider range options in MDM for BYOD. Google has been progressively tightening the Android ecosystem, so hopefully this could clean up the experience for full-screen apps. Apple Classroom can be used to create ad hoc controls on unmanaged BYOD devices, but only covers iPads; perhaps this could expand, too.
This is also interesting because there are a lot of IT pros in school districts that take pride in delivering creative, low-cost solutions that have a positive effect on education. Now, let’s see what MDM for BYOD can do next.